Don’t Call it a Dream, Call it a GOAL!

“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” – Pope John XXIII

Hey y’all! Hope here, with a question and a little hopeservation about our kids, sports and being their parent…

So I just returned from our annual summer vacation, and jumped right back into the summer swing of life with none other then? You guessed it…


When it got me to thinking, do you remember what you did two years ago today? Turns out, I remember EXACTLY what I did.

I sat and I watched. Just like I have for countless hours over the years.

None of it has to do with me…and yet I watch, suspended in time and emotion. Between a place of motherhood, inner coach, cheerleader, worshipper, critic and admirer. Praying to God and the Universe my silently whispered prayers. Staying relaxed, cool and calm on the outside, while internally the brain, heart and eyes are twitching at what seems an immeasurable pace. Casually watching…

There is no room for ego in this, or at least there shouldn’t be! That got checked a long time ago. So you sit, in silence. This is what you DO…and this is what I did amongst a small pool of other parents doing exactly the same…as I watched my oldest daughter at an open try-out.

These are the hours you try not to agonize over, yet you do, not for yourself but for your child.

Fast forward two full years from that moment, my oldest is now signed to a small state college in Florida playing at a NJCAA D2 program and finished her first year. She went through the recruiting process and had ranging offers from all over. Recruiting and offers comes in all shapes and sizes, and I’ve come to learn, no two situations are the same. She had verbally committed to a very solid out of state university program that had won their conference two years running, with a nationally renown phenomenal coach and the bells and whistles of an all around great campus. Truly the makings of a student athlete’s university experience every sport mom hopes to see their child attend and play for yet before signing on the dotted line, she decided she didn’t want to move that far from home.

Turns out, while she ultimately picked a much smaller college and far less competitive volleyball program, it’s been a fabulous experience FOR HER. It was the perfect balance as she took her first fledgling steps from home.

Because that’s just it…at the end of the day, while it is a dream, it is also a dream balanced with reality to become EACH person’s GOAL!

Now I have two daughters who play volleyball and it turns out, it is both their goal to play at the college level. A goal they have poured so much in to, somehow it became my goal too, in that I support their efforts 100%. Between the two of them I have been doing this sport parent thing for over 18 collective years and I know there is an end at some point, but until that time comes, if they are going…I am going.

Whatever a college student’s home life and background is like, every student athlete has SOME one that supported them in developing into the young man or woman that he or she has become. These people serve as anchors for students as they go off to college. They have also served as encouragement for the students to follow their dreams and be the best versions of themselves they can.

Now this isn’t some misguided, living through my children vicariously type of thing. Personally, I never went in to any of this with this vision. Yet, it evolved and now that it is here – I find myself serving as both my daughters’ anchors and sails, as I encourage them to follow their dreams, and do the best they can to reach their GOALS!

My oldest was blessed enough to take her volleyball to the next level. Hopefully, she will pass this torch on. Wonderfully enough, she is her younger sister’s biggest supporter and champion. She knows what it takes and she wants it for her sister too. There is a HUGE sense of pride as she watches her sister develop and cheers her on.

As she gets closer to her second college season, she has come to the realization that she may wish to continue playing or possibly pursue coaching. What started as a two year tenure at a state college is flying by. Now she finds herself ready to spread her wings and look at her next steps. It’s her dream, her vision, her goal. If she doesn’t want to quit, neither will I. I will hold on to her goal as long as she holds on because I welcome her journey of discovery!

And so in some way, I will do this all over again…only this time I will agonize less AND continue to TRUST this process!

But putting my sport mom hat aside, I can’t help but wonder, what must it really feel like to constantly and knowingly put yourself in these high pressure moments where your every move is judged, critiqued, and compared to another young female student athlete? Sometimes side by side! To constantly allow yourself to be this emotionally and physically vulnerable to rejection at an age when most young females are hyper sensitive to any criticisms or potential rejection?! To have the questions running through your mind, “Am I good enough? Was my athletic prowess enough? Do I have the GPA, is my SAT enough? Did I do enough to catch the eye of a coach?” The seeds of self doubt could be ENDLESS!

This is powerful stuff going on in the brains of our young ladies, layered on top of their already developing mind, body and soul. For these young ladies to love and have this much passion for a sport, (or anything) they willingly put themselves out there.

Knowing that the odds are NOT in their favor.

You have to be made of pretty tough stuff – mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and you have to have quite a bit of support backing you up to take those hits and shut that inner voice of self doubt down. To keep feeling good about getting up, dusting yourself off in the face of defeat and saying, “Yeah! Let’s do it AGAIN!” You have to learn at an early age, that you don’t have to be PERFECT but you do have to trust yourself to lean in, as you push past your weakest moments.

In fact statistics across the United States indicate only 5.8% of all female high school age volleyball players will go on to play the next level – that’s ANY level. 5.8%! That means 94.2% either chose to go a different route in life, weeded themselves out, or simply didn’t cut it.

Let’s just run that through our brains for a moment and while scholarships are nice, believe it or not, that’s not the actual goal.

The REAL goal is to have GOOD humans of strong moral character, that eventually become confident, productive, happy and accomplished citizens contributing to society. Who are able to lean on themselves and their faith, allow it to support them through the rough patches that will surely come and trust they can handle anything! To truly know they have the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual strength to manage and guide their thoughts and behaviors in an effort to turn their dreams into reality!

This is the thought that occurs to me almost everyday, as I raise my children in the sporting arena. It is important for them to understand and accept that there will ALWAYS be someone smarter, faster, and more skilled and then someone who isn’t, in ALL of LIFE…and THIS IS OKAY!

Of course it’s also my job to teach them that you can’t sweat that. You can look up to one and lift up the other. Because ultimately, this is what they are training for…and they know what to do and how to be good people and team players. In the meantime, go out there and leave it all on the court.

At the end of the day, they are learning how to set goals, manifesting their destiny, because they’ve got this and if it isn’t this time, that’s okay. Everything happens for a reason, accept it with GRACE and keep it moving forward.

After all, I have learned to trust in divine order – for myself and for them – even though I cannot always see it from my vantage point, I have faith in the BIG PICTURE! So yup…this is part of the teaching process too.

Now that I’ve been through the process with one of my girls, I’ve told them that where ever they hopefully end up, no matter what – it is up to them to take advantage of the opportunities they have earned and been given! THEIR growth is THEIR responsibility! Because THAT court, THIS game, THEIR skills is no different then what they need in REAL LIFE!

”Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward.” – Hebrews 10:35

Until then, as long as they’re in it, I’m in it…because in this house, we don’t call it a dream – we call it a GOAL!


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As always…

Go in love,


  • Ashley Adams

    My boys are still so young and I don’t have much experience as a sports mom yet… BUT, so many things you said brought me back to my teens years as a dancer. The competition, the decisions, the pressure, the likelihood of making it as a professional. Also the fact that my sister followed in my foot steps and we supported each other, just as yours do. Warms my heart! Not sure if I look forward to or dread when these days come for my kids ☺️

    • Hope Elizabeth Dutton

      Awwww…I completely appreciate your insight Ashley! I’d be curious of your mom’s perspective!? Passion is passion, and I have had more then a few moms express they feel similarly – no matter what it might have been! So yup, I think it’s safe to say you have felt this on one side of the coin and in years to come, it will flip…and when it does, you’ll be so very prepared!!! ❤️⚓️

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